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Pet care is an awesome responsibility even with tiny pets such as guppies. The breeding of guppies is an even larger commitment. It requires a serious outlook and should not be taken lightly.

The initial consideration is space. Guppies are relatively easy to breed compared to other animals; however, it is essential to have plenty of room in your home or apartment to accommodate the equipment needed. The secret is to start small. Expansion should be expected if there is success.

In addition to the initial tank, two more aquariums, one for each sex, each with the capacity of 15 to 20 gallons, should be prepared for the young guppies. Keeping the sexes separate from the earliest possible time allows guppies to be nurtured to maturity and more easily and selectively bred. A series of additional ten-gallon aquariums should be maintained, too, so you can separate guppies of certain desired color patterns that appear from time to time. Each tank will require all the necessary equipment that is normally needed in a single tank, such as proper lighting, heating, and a filtration system.

Once you’ve set up the equipment, shop for your first breeding guppies. The requirement is a virgin female neither too young nor too old. The male should be as close to the female’s age as possible. Start them off on a conditioned diet of white worms, live or frozen foods, mosquito larvae, and brine shrimp, with a daily addition of high quality dry food.

Observe the male and female in their new environment. The male at this point is almost always swimming around the female in an elaborate display, spreading his fins before the female, seeking her attention. It may seem that copulation occurs many times. Guppy copulation occurs when the male touches its forward protruding copulatory fin to the female’s genital area.

If all goes as planned, a fertilized guppy female will produce a new batch of fry approximately every four weeks, if kept warm, with as many as five litters being produced as a result of a single mating.

The first sign that a female is about to give birth is her gravid spot on her belly. It begins to appear darker in color. The gravid spot gets darker and moves down the female’s body toward her vent. At this point, remove the female from the tank very carefully and place her in the previously prepared separate aquarium with large masses of floating plants.

Young guppies are usually born head first, emerging from their mother’s genital opening in a curled position. They will uncurl almost immediately after they are born and will make their way to the surface, where their swim bladders are filled with air for the first time. The best time to net them is when they begin to near the surface.

As soon after birth as possible, remove the female guppy to another aquarium by herself. While well-fed guppies do not usually feed on their own young, it is always best to play it safe.

Observe the new fry for at least a week. Fry food is available at pet stores. It is powdery in nature, so avoid over-feeding as this has a tendency to clog the filter. If you observe any deformed guppies, remove them immediately.

It is possible to begin determining the sexes and separating the fry after the initial week. Experts have a procedure for “sexing” the fry that is easily reproduced by a home enthusiast.

First, you will need a two-gallon aquarium and a piece of black cardboard that can cover the back of the aquarium. Cut a hole about 1/2 inch in the center of the cardboard and place it on the back of the aquarium. Place a small lamp with a frosted 100-watt bulb directly behind the hole. Using the water from the aquarium containing the new fry, fill the two-gallon tank. Carefully remove two or three fry from the tank and put them in the sexing tank. Wait until early evening when the sun is dim, and using a magnifying glass, observe the guppy as it swims through the beam of light. Under these specialized conditions, the gravid spot of the females can be detected. Males will not have this spot. Segregate the males and females.

After 4 to 6 weeks, you should be able to see if any of the fry are displaying unusual color designs that greatly vary from the parents. If you are seriously working toward developing an unusual color strain, these should be segregated into a smaller tank of about ten gallons.

Among guppy breeding enthusiasts, there is great honor bestowed on those who are able to produce a male and female strain of guppies whose color and markings are closely matched. For this reason, it is also recommended that you study body coloration and spots on fins of the females.

After six months, the time has come to choose a couple of females who have developed well-shaped bodies, fins, and coloration. Observe them and remove them carefully from the tank. Place two females in another aquarium with the male you have chosen. Lower the net carefully into the water and allow the guppies to swim out on their own. Never drop them as this can cause undo stress. At this point, the process of breeding starts all over again.

If your interest is serious, experts suggest acquiring new stock from sources different from where you acquired your original stock. In this manner, there is a possibility of creating a hybrid.

Breeding guppies is not for everyone. It is an awesome responsibility requiring time, space, and a financial commitment. If breeding guppies isn't the answer, guppies make wonderful pets without the need to breed them. Both are fun.